Well, it wasn’t the best of books. It wasn’t the worst of books (but in the end, the one I selected as the worst of 2016 for me). It is definitely somewhere in the middle. I am not going to do an in depth review of The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev since we are going to be having a group discussion on March 1 for the Cannonball Book Club Reads Romance and I want to save topics to talk about then. But let’s do a quick rundown of what I liked and what I thought were some of the problems of this work.
Pros (a non-exhaustive list):
- Absolutely anything to do with the Aunties and the wedding.
- Descriptive language of the Indian culture and traditions which populate the vast majority of the book.
- The pacing of the second half of the book.
Cons (a similarly skimmed list):
- A lack of consistent characterization, especially in the first half of the book.
- The beginning of this book is overworked, there is too much everything. Too much drama, too much backstory, too much angst, too many weird flashbacks.
- Adoption is totally a thing! You don’t have to have biological children if you don’t want to, but you do have to talk about it.
- The characters don’t TALK to each other. They have feelings and emotions near each other.
- Schtupping does not equal communicating, even in a romance novel.
And I think that is the crux of my concerns with this book: there isn’t enough dialogue, or witty banter, or any of the fun things that help make romance novels so enjoyable. Dev is definitely heading in a good direction with her craft and the kinds of stories she wants to tell, but the “early days” of her writing are clearly visible. Show, don’t tell, and I’ll become a loyal reader.